Human Interest

‘You are my miracle’: Doctors gave Max a 5% chance of survival, but he’s now a healthy boy

A baby doctors said only had a 5% chance of survival is now a healthy, happy four-year-old boy. Max Staines was born with gastroschisis, meaning his organs were formed outside of his body. His mother, Lauren Staines, was encouraged to have an abortion, but she refused, and now sees Max as her miracle.

In an interview with The Mirror, Staines spoke about how she became unexpectedly pregnant. “We’d been in a relationship for a couple of years but Max’s dad didn’t want to have a baby so I decided to go ahead with the pregnancy on my own,” she said. But at her 12-week ultrasound, she was told something was wrong.

“[T]hey told me that they believed his organs were on the outside of his body, that it was very rare and they didn’t really know what they were looking at so they referred me to another hospital,” she explained. “They gave me some general information on a printout and just said it was a five per cent chance of survival. Two or three days later I went to St George’s and they confirmed it was gastroschisis straight away, but it was too early to tell which of his organs were on the outside.”

Lauren and Max, shared on Staines’ Facebook page.

Staines told the Mirror that she was advised to have an abortion, but refused.

By 20 weeks, doctors were able to determine that Max’ liver and bowels were outside of his body, and there was concern over the damage amniotic fluid might cause to his organs. Staines had an otherwise normal, healthy pregnancy, but when Max hadn’t been moving as much, she rushed to the hospital, where doctors realized his heart rate had dropped. They decided to perform an emergency c-section then and there.

“When he was born the nurse asked me if I wanted to look at him and I hesitated,” Staines said. “She said ‘right too late’ he’s going to have to go and he was transferred to St George’s before I’d even seen him. I couldn’t go with him because they wanted me to be able to stand up on my own before I was transferred as well. I didn’t get to meet him for nine hours after he was born, and when I got to St George’s his surgeon said ‘it’s a lot worse than we had anticipated.’ But when he came back out after the operation, he had a huge smile on his face and looked at me and said ‘we managed to do a full closure.'”

READ: UK parents refuse to abort ‘miracle baby’ with birth defect, and have no regrets

Max survived a six-hour surgery to put his stomach, liver, and bowels back inside his body. But his fight was only just beginning. From there, he had to be fitted with an NG tube to drain fluid from around his organs, and he had to be fed through a tube. After three weeks, he was able to go home, but he still was in and out of the hospital for constant monitoring. But Max proved doctors wrong at every turn.

Originally thinking he would need a colostomy bag because of his shortened bowels, Max became potty trained last year. And Max has now been completely discharged from the hospital.

“Every single day I look at him and think, you are my miracle,” she said. “Everybody calls him my ‘miracle baby’ but at the same time we worked bloody hard to get him through this and he fought so hard as well. I look back at pictures and realise how far we have come from being absolutely terrified of being a single mum and worrying that I was going to leave hospital without a baby at all to being as happy as we are now. When we were told that he was going to be discharged, it was the perfect piece of the puzzle towards our happy ending.”

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